Take action to improve access to NHS dental treatment

13th January 2022 | Posted by: Vanessa Giraud

Like many dentists, especially for practices offering NHS services, we are increasingly concerned about the lack of access to NHS dental treatment for our patients. Our concern is not limited to SpaDental, but we are concerned for dentistry in the South-West and across the country.

calendar for access NHS dental treatment

Why is it hard to get an NHS dental appointment?

A combination of the pandemic and Brexit has led to a shortage of dentists in England impacting on the number of appointments available for NHS dental treatment. In short, the result is that there are simply not enough dentists. At SpaDental, for example, we have staff who have returned to Europe or taken early retirement rather than continue to work during the pandemic.

Foreseeing the problem, we have put a lot of time into recruiting, but we have not been able to hire a new dentist for over a year even though our rates are competitive and working conditions are good. Please, if you know a dentist who would like to work with us for even one day a week, ask them to get in touch!

How can the public help increase access to NHS dental appointments?

You can help by contacting your local MP’s office to let them know how you feel about the lack of access to NHS dental care. We are trying, but we need action from both the NHS and from central government on these two issues:

1: Schedule more examinations for dentists to qualify

We need our government to strongly encourage the General Dental Council (GDC) to offer more opportunities for candidates qualified overseas to sit the Overseas Registration Examinations so they can work as dentists in England. For example, we have recruited three dentists with overseas qualifications to work in Plymouth and Saltash, yet they can only work as dental therapists until the GDC gives them the opportunity to take their exams.

2: Allow direct access to hygiene for NHS patients

Dental therapists have a broad scope of practice. They deliver excellent preventive treatments, care for children’s teeth, and can place fillings. However, while a private patient can go directly to a dental therapist, an NHS patient cannot. This means that although we have allocated NHS funding, without a dentist we cannot use it. We are talking with the NHS to try to find a way the NHS can fund your treatment with our dental therapists.

Thank you

We understand our patients’ frustration with the lack of access to NHS dental care. The SpaDental team continues to help our patients from Saltash with emergency and essential care. We must, however, work with due regard to our staffing shortages.

We need a solution for the provision of NHS care to be facilitated by the NHS and our government. Meanwhile, we will continue to prioritise essential care and do our very best to help you when you most need us.

Our sincere thanks to you for continuing to be understanding of the current circumstances.

Additional note:

POSTED IN: Perio, Saltash


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January, 2022

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